The ‘ethic of knowledge’ and responsible science: Responses to genetically motivated racism,

AHP readers may be interested in a new open-access article in Social Studies of Science: “The ‘ethic of knowledge’ and responsible science: Responses to genetically motivated racism,” Natan Elgabsi. Abstract:

This study takes off from the ethical problem that racism grounded in population genetics raises. It is an analysis of four standard scientific responses to the problem of genetically motivated racism, seen in connection with the Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP): (1) Discriminatory uses of scientific facts and arguments are in principle ‘misuses’ of scientific data that the researcher cannot be further responsible for. (2) In a strict scientific sense, genomic facts ‘disclaim racism’, which means that an epistemically correct grasp of genomics should be ethically justified. (3) Ethical difficulties are issues to be ‘resolved’ by an ethics institution or committee, which will guarantee the ethical quality of the research scrutinized. (4) Although population genetics occasionally may lead to racism, its overall ‘value’ for humankind justifies its cause as a desirable pursuit. I argue that these typical responses to genetically motivated racism supervene on a principle called the ‘ethic of knowledge’, which implies that an epistemically correct account has intrinsic ethical value. This principle, and its logically related ideas concerning the ethic of science, effectively avoids a deeper ethical question of responsibility in science from being raised.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.